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Penny Pepper has been a writer and activist within the disability arts movement for 20 years. She has written articles for dao, Arts Disability Culture Magazine, Disability Now and Ouch! She has also written short stories for DAO and is the author of Desires (2003), a controversially unique collection of explicit fiction focusing on disabled people, relationships and sex.

Poems, performance and other good medicine

5 February 2014

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Flyer for Penny Pepper's event on Saturday February 8th.

Over the last few days, a small robin has sat on my garden fence, stubbornly holding his own against the wind. I feel a bit like this robin, as life has battered me along on its usual rollercoaster but I’ve hung in there. New Year’s Eve, I was in hospital, hearing the fireworks along the embankment from my bed, a poignant sound that flushed me with sadness and conflicting thoughts of frustration to get on with life, or to rest and slip into the labels of fraility imposed on me....

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Taking A Liberty

19 September 2013

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photo of writer penny pepper smiling at the camera

I sit in a cramped room in Camden.  I am a shy, nervous creature, newly in London. Listening to this bunch of disabled people speak, my thoughts flood with hope and awe. They speak of our arts and culture, and call for revolution. This was a meeting in the Artsline office, Crowndale Road, circa 1985. I am not sure any of us realised we were pioneers, but I believe history shows we were in our own ramshackle way. And now, against memories of those beginnings, I come to Liberty in the...

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Journals and scrapings: the reappearance of Penny

26 June 2013

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Inspired now by my darling friend Jo Cox to write some DAO blog. I’m sad that my energy levels restrict me; sad too that DAO has no funds for us bloggers so I end up shuffling it down my pile. And Jo understands. Borderline thoughts swing you to the highs and lows in extremis, and somewhere, in the middle, you clasp onto any breather that allows you to Do Stuff. Sometimes I roll with the highs. A manic mood can mean completion, inspiration and even letting my babies go into the dark...

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Margaret and Me: reflections from my Thatcher years

17 April 2013

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The Thatcher funeral pontificates in the background as I write. I feel a weary resignation to a day of eulogy, of history revised, though if nothing else, this event provokes me to be reflective on my own past. I was in my late teens when Thatcher came to power. I remember those years with an emotional resonance, the deja vu feeling that comes with recalling tough times. I had a passing interest that she was a woman. I was new to feminism and embraced it into my strange, sheltered life as I...

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Desires Reborn, Dizzy-Crazy life.

5 September 2012

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photo of Penny Pepper's book 'Desires Reborn'

A short blog by my standards. Everything is crazy. Me, the world, my cat. Dizzy crazy, implode-explode crazy. The roller coaster up-down and a bombardment of thoughts and wishes and actions. Because? Coming to you now, my ebook Desires Reborn. This is a revision of  ‘Desires’ which came out in hard copy as part of the Innovate award almost 10 years ago. I was passionate about the stories not being lost in the turbulent sea of Paralympic furore. Not merely because they are...

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Writing, Ruby, madness - and those pesky Olympics.

4 August 2012

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This week my love-hate affair with writing has me in its thrilling and painful grip.  Writing is like an old friend who sometimes annoys the fuck out of me, and sometimes wraps me in arms of pure co-operative elation. Recently it’s been a see-saw between both and admittedly the ole Borderline has a role in this. But, it helps as much as it hinders. Exquisite highs bring great bursts of creativity as much as the pits of anguish that lead me to unfortunate behaviour and the whole...

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A rousing call to action - Gabriel Pepper guests on my blog

16 July 2012

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As I am in the tower of word, to half steal a line from Leonard Cohen, I am letting my good friend Gabriel Pepper have his say here today, in the form of a speech he did for his local DPO, where he is Campaigns Officer. Gabriel is a powerhouse of political activism, from going on actions, to constant online work. It is central to his life now as he sees what we are fighting for. I politicised Gabriel over the years we were together. I am very proud of him, and hope you will take heart from his...

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Do Not Go Gentle.... to where ConDems want us

28 May 2012

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photo of Penny Pepper at a protest

The sun is out, I have a new garden to play with (huh, for now) and my mood is a tad better. I’ve been in the wilderness of serious ill health and dealing with the consequences of that. But I’m coming back into the throng, slowly. The Abnormally Funny People gig was good, though laid me low for awhile. I am maybe a little more scarred at the edges that’s all. Scars inside and out, and ones I wear with honour. I feel many of us will be battle scarred by the end... Today I...

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Diversity and Devilment!

12 February 2012

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photo of spoken word artist Penny Pepper with cellist Jo Cox, pictured in the Liberty tent at Trafalgar Square

Please let me tempt you to be challenged and entertained by my guest slot at Soho Theatre, Feb 20th 7.45pm, where I am performing with acclaimed comedy troupe Abnormally Funny People. Reviews, press coverage, radio slots and offers of work all very welcome. I am also an eager Penny for some representation / management for my spoken word as I have too much to handle on my own. Other than this, I'm sending this invite purely in the hope that you will come along and enjoy the whole evening....

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Splitting Penny: the ups, the downs and Ruby Wax.

5 October 2011

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I've been poorly and bogged down. Staring at the walls and wondering why I painted them like I did. One is red.   Looking at the news and thinking this is all so crazy. This is a big brew of hate bubbling to a head. Feral gangs? Criminal immigrants? Disabled scroungers? When will people rebel against this?   I know we're battling. I showed my jittery face at an ATOS demo in London, but I could not stay long. The heat and the crowds, too much.    My life is split into many...

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New York, Old London, Same Battles

4 August 2011

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I did it. Amazed myself and survived to tell the tale, crammed with feverish stories and kaleidoscope  memories. All roasted and shaken in the rich, brash, varied flavours of New York. I say roasted with meaning because it was hot. Blistering and humid, and when up the Empire State Building, I could see the thick smog arc hanging over and into the city. One day hit 39c - I don't believe I have known it that hot before in my whole life. Thank the gods for air con. Yet nothing could ruin...

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Many Many Penny Adventures

4 July 2011

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It’s all go. Go, go, go. Where to begin? Ok, firstly, on Wednesday, you can hear me do my bit on Radio Four, for Four Thought. This was recorded two weeks ago at the splendid RSA off the Strand, in front of a live audience. They were responsive, laughed in the right places – including at the sanctioned word ‘tits’ – and looked suitably solemn at the serious moments. I’ll be intrigued to see what you all think, though please be gentle with me....

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Films, moods, protest.

14 April 2011

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Life is busy at Penny towers with much planning – and worrying – going on since I heard I had been successful with my Grant for the Arts. Of course I am excited and bouncing off the walls too. But where to start? Who to work with? I’m developing a one-woman cabaret called Adventures in the Dark and Light. Please feel free to join my Facebook page of that name if you’re interested in my work. I try to keep it up to date – latest gigs, activities and news in general....

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Penny blogs. There's a little sunshine and lots going on

10 March 2011

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In the foreground a woman plays a cello. Behind her a woman sits in front of a sheet on a music stand

The sun licks across my window and lures the blossom to bloom. At last! I’m bouncing off the walls, full of seesaw moods, happy-sad, melancholy-joyful, and dripping with creative sap. Mustn’t fall off the tightrope mind you. But isn’t it lovely to see some sunshine? The last week or so has been a cram of activity. A new story ‘Nippy Days’, only written about 4 weeks ago, was selected to be read at ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’ - a story telling event...

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Penny on protests... then and now!

23 January 2011

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Penny and Gabriel, Liz Crow in background at  protest a few years ago

It’s Sunday, late evening as I write this. I’m preparing myself for the protest in London tomorrow, as we take to the streets to show our anger at the savage cuts about to hack us hard. Cuts that slice our human rights to bloody ribbons too. I haven’t been on an action for some time. From a personal perspective they have always made me nervous and even insecure, as though I was not really up to it, not made of hard protestor fibre. I’m fragile, I break mentally and...

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New Year, New Hopes, Old Battles

2 January 2011

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woman wearing a purple jumper lying ona bed

I doubt any of my pals are surprised I didn't manage to post a DadaFest write-up part two. Distraction, distraction... That's my problem. Sometimes I fire so many simultaneous thoughts that they lead me around in exhausting circles, and leave me in a woeful state bemoaning that I haven’t completed any project. I hope this will change this New Year. If you are ever on the end of my distraction issue – apologies. OK, I have had a weight of annoying health issues too, but the...

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Penny Pepper's DadaFest Part One: Fun, Frantic, Provocative

10 December 2010

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I'm pulling my guilty face as I write this because I didn't manage to blog while I was working at DadaFest, and I really wanted to share this amazing experience. I've read the blog by Tanya, the reviews, and comments by Colin and echo the sentiments. This felt historic and it was a huge privileged to be there. Yet what a whirlwind, what an awesome frenzy. I loved every minute, even the exhausting ones. My participation in DadaFest happened despite the odds. Earlier in the year my...

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Penny Pepper on leading a jigsaw life

7 November 2010

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I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling life is a series of often poorly fitting pieces which have to jog along with each other somehow. Of late it's been a massive balls-in-the-air act of creative work, PA recruitment, health issues, legal battles and assorted duties that can't be left. Oh, not forgetting I am now about 11 in the queue for my BDP treatment assessment and have to keep chasing that. Thanks goodness for supportive friends and the crisis team - well, sometimes they rise to the mark. I'm...

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Penny Pepper blogs her ups, downs and creative urges

19 October 2010

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photo of author reading in front of a microphone at radio station

  There is a lot going on for me at the moment and I can hardly dare whisper that much of it seems positive. Not only is the novel ‘Fancy Nancy’ Out There now, at least being read by someone, but I managed to submit a radio play to the BBC and tie up several loose ends on several creative possibilities. I'm immersed now in DadaFest preparations. There's the burlesque event, I am a roving poet and I am also in bed at the John and Yoko Bed-In celebration. I intend to do...

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Fancy Nancy, the novel, is finished!

11 October 2010

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Amid painful chaos and the world falling in I did a wonderful if tortuous thing. My thoughts still go through a cruel mangle and bits of me come out the other side in jagged fragments. A lot still hangs in a rather precarious balance – housing benefit issues, the benefit trap, lack of regular work, poor mental and physical health.   But then….? I don’t know whether it’s the meds – which were increased recently. I am less raw, but also less motivated and...

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My Happy-Sad See-Sawing Life, part 97

8 September 2010

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I survived the big 5-0 drama remarkably intact and with a beautiful party organised by lovely friends. I am not so sure about the outcome of my traumas with my council as detailed desperately in my last blog. It seems to move forward, and some help has been given, but then it gets rather sticky and slows down again. One pushes on as one must. I attempt to look forward and on that note I must thank you all for the encouraging comments left on my last blog, which made me feel less isolated....

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Penny Pepper on the dawn of her half century

10 August 2010

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It leaves me incredulous every passing day now, as the big event hurtles closer. That is, on 16 August I am 50. Oh my. It's as unreal as the recent diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. I'm 50 and disordered? Maybe I'll simply be proud. I know I can pass as younger if I want. Vain, moi? Always.... As for BPD - that's me. Extreme and emotional and a happy drama queen. Mostly. Apparently my death was predicted to be at around the age of 20 years (and almost occurred at 10...

Comments: 5

Penny Pepper is surviving and sunning

6 July 2010

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photo of two wheelchair-users on a seaside prom

It's a very strange place I find myself in this week. An uncertain placing in the world. They, the faceless, have given me hints of another diagnosis - borderline personality disorder. I've 'probably' had it all my life. Not sure what to think, but then that thinking stuff is all a bit scrambled right now anyhow. My wise therapist of 12 years on and off (sadly not able to guide me officially now) is urging me to resist identifying deeply with any label, but using it if it helps with finding...

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Penny Pepper urges people to go to the Islington Film Festival

21 June 2010

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I've been away. Not sure where. Wandering inside my head I suppose. Best to save details of that for another day. I'm trying to come to terms with 'major depressive illness'. That's the label now, more are coming. I want to pour it into creativity. I can't help myself...... My short film is being shown this Sunday June 27th at the Islington Film Festival, Holloway Odeon. Do come... it helps and it's appreciated. I know it's a good thing, though I feel a bit distant from it... Who has some...

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Penny Pepper urges you see her next Wednesday at Rich Mix, Hackney, London

14 April 2010

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Super fast blog! I am manic, manic, manic, today and feeling like the whole world, or maybe dao world at least should come and see me do my spoken word stuff as a featured act, next Wedsnesday. It will be a grand evening of words and thoughts, upbeat, slowbeat and everything in between. It's for Jawdance, an Apples and Snakes event and the details are: Richmix 35-37 Bethnal Green Road London E1 6LA www.richmix.org.uk/aandc_swapples.htm** and here's there link to Jawdance on Facebook Hope to see...

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